Notebook: What's the motivation?

The Vikings have been out of the playoff chase for a couple weeks and the performance on the field has been lackluster. So is Leslie Frazier getting full effort from his players?

The Vikings' 40-14 loss to the Chicago Bears is easy to diagnose as a lack of effort. The Vikings didn't have the hope of the playoffs as motivation, but players and interim head coach Leslie Frazier insisted the loss was not the product of a lack of effort.

"It's frustrating for everybody. It's disappointing when you play in front of our fans (Monday) night with the energy that we had from our fans and not get it done," Frazier said Tuesday. "It's a frustrating feeling for everybody involved. I just feel bad for our players and our fans that we didn't play better over the course of four quarters. But the frustration was evident for all of us."

The fans showed their frustration with something unique to an outdoor winter event. In the Metrodome, they were resigned to booing. With a fresh coat of snow available to them at TCF Bank Stadium, fans celebrated the opening-series touchdown by throwing snow in the air. However, as the frustration and deficit increased, the snowballs started being directed at the Vikings bench area.

"We didn't play as well as we need to play to give our fans more to cheer about, but do want to thank the staff for getting things together for us to be able to play," Frazier said. "… I thought the effort of our players was there right to the end we just weren't able to match some of the things that they did and they were the better team."

Defensive tackle Kevin Williams said the Bears were able to take advantage of big moments. There was a 67-yard touchdown to Johnny Knox that easily could have been an interception if safety Madieu Williams had taken a good angle and recognized where the ball was. There was a 64-yard punt return for a touchdown by Devin Hester and a 79-yard kickoff return by Hester that set up another score for the Bears.

"We've been in games, but then something drastic happens," Williams said. "We come out of halftime and let them return a kick to the five- or six-yard line. And then they get a field goal. That's like a two score lead at the time. Then we let a punt go when we were playing pretty good defense. We just got to stop them."

Now that the Vikings have only two road games remaining on their schedule, the challenge is for Frazier to keep the players motivated. That will start with a tough Philadelphia Eagles team that is leading the NFC East and might be the best team in the NFC right now. Frazier is left to try to keep his players focused with the hope of the playoffs.

"They've been such a resilient group in the past and they definitely had to be in the last few weeks," Frazier said. "… I don't sense yet that they've begun to wane or they're less motivated than they have been in the past. We really went into this ballgame with the right attitude and the right focus. We just couldn't sustain some of the things that we started doing early. We'll have to be able to do that against Philadelphia for four quarters. You saw what they did against the Giants. No lead is insurmountable it seems to that football team."

Despite what the Vikings have shown to this point, Frazier doesn't see his players quitting on him.

"I don't think we have anybody in our locker room that will quit on the situation. I just don't see that. I see fight within our team," he said. "I saw guys fighting last night right to the end, trying to make plays, and I fully expect that when we go on the road against Philadelphia."

JOB SECURITY

For Frazier, the Vikings' performances reflect poorly on him. When Brad Childress was fired, it appeared the players had quit on him. Frazier was able to get wins against his first two opponents, Buffalo and Washington, but against playoff competition the Vikings haven't played well in the last two weeks.

"It's been a little bit different than what I scripted in my mind during preparation. But we're 2-2 and we got a chance to be 3-2 against Eagles on Sunday and that's what I'm focused on," Frazier said. "We're going to figure this out and find a way to go up to Philadelphia and get a win. Somehow, some way, we we'll figure it out."

So far, however, that hasn't worked against quality teams. The Vikings haven't just lost to quality teams, they've been blown out by a combined score of 61-17 in the last two games.

A respectable finish to the season could mean Frazier gets the "interim" label removed from his current title as head coach. But continuing to get decimated by playoff teams won't help his status with the Vikings or any other team looking for a head coach.

"You know what I think about most? Just trying to help our guys find a way to get a win. Not so much for me but for them," Frazier said. "Like I said when I was asked to take over this role, I just know the kind of guys we have on this football team and I know how important it is to them. I just want to come up with a way where I can help put them in a position to be successful this Sunday against the Eagles. If that's the case in these final two games, that's all that matters to me. I have no idea what's going to happen after the Detroit game. But what's important to me is I give them a chance to be successful."

The Vikings certainly aren't playing with their full complement of starters – with Cedric Griffin, Steve Hutchinson, Anthony Herrera and Chris Cook among the players on injured reserve – but they also appear to be getting less than a full effort by some of those left to battle.

NOTES

  • Frazier was happy with the way rookie running back Toby Gerhart responded to his first start of the season. Gerhart finished with 77 yards on 16 carries, but 68 of those yards came in the first half.

    "Toby did a great job in stepping up in Adrian's role, and was really proud of the way he carried that football. Wish we could have given it to him even more," Frazier said. "Just that where the score ended up at, we had to throw the football a little bit more. But he did a terrific job, just like we thought he would."

  • The Vikings are being "cautious" with Peterson's knee/thigh bruise suffered when he collided with Tarvaris Jackson during a handoff against the Giants nine days ago.

    "If he can go, then he'll get a chance to go, but if not, if there are any inhibitions, we won't put him at risk," Frazier said.

  • The Vikings officially signed quarterback Rhett Bomar to their 53-man roster and waived QB R.J. Archer, who was promoted last week from the practice squad. Archer could be re-signed to the practice squad after he clears waivers. Bomar was on the Giants practice squad.


    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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